This post is part of the August 2013 Synchroblog – Parables: Small Stories, Big Ideas
“Religious writing is usually designed to make the truth of faith clear, concise, and palatable. Parables subvert this approach. In the parable, truth is not expressed via some dusty theological discourse that seeks to educate us, but rather it arises as a lyrical dis-course that would inspire and transform us. In light of this, parables do not seek to change our minds but rather to change our hearts.” Peter Rollins in The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales
I love the way a good parable surprises us and turns our thinking upside down. Many good parables take a well-known story or situation and give it a twist here and a tweak there in order to cause the audience to think about something from a different perspective. Jesus was a master at crafting and telling a good parable.
But I notice that Jesus parables don’t always seem to have the impact that they should have on me and I think that is because they have become too familiar. Which is why I think I got such a kick out of the collection of parables that Peter Rollins wrote a few years ago.
If you haven’t read Rollins’ collection of parables you should pick up his book The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales. I think the 33 parables in his book might end up pushing you around a bit and that’s what a good parable should do.
Here’s one of the parables from the book to whet your appetite:
You sit in silence contemplating what has just taken place. Only moments ago you were alive and well, relaxing at home with friends. Then there was a deep, crushing pain in your chest that brought you crashing to the floor. The pain has now gone, but you are no longer in your home. Instead, you find yourself standing on the other side of death waiting to stand before the judgment seat and discover where you will spend eternity. As you reflect upon your life your name is called, and you are led down a long corridor into a majestic sanctuary with a throne located in its center. Sitting on this throne is a huge, breathtaking being who looks up at you and begins to speak.
“My name is Lucifer, and I am the angel of light.”
You are immediately filled with fear and trembling as you realize that you are face to face with the enemy of all that is true and good. Then the angel continues: “I have cast God down from his throne and banished Christ to the realm of eternal death. It is I who hold the keys to the kingdom. It is I who am the gatekeeper of paradise, and it is for me alone to decide who shall enter eternal joy and who shall be forsaken.”
After saying these words, he sits up and stretches out his vast arms. “In my right hand I hold eternal life and in my left hand eternal death. Those who would bow down and acknowledge me as their god shall pass through the gates of paradise and experience an eternity of bliss, but all those who refuse will be vanquished to the second death with their Christ.”
After a long pause he bends toward you and speaks, “Which will you choose?”
Be sure and check out the other contributions to this month’s synchroblog:
Jesus’ Parables are Confusing? Good! – Jeremy Myers
Parabolic Living – Tim Nichols
Seed Parables:Sowing Seeds of the Kingdom – Carol Kunihol
Parables – Be Like the Ant or the Grasshopper – Paul Meier
Penelope and the Crutch – Glenn Hager
Parables and the Insult of Grace – Rachel
Changing Hearts Rather Than Minds – Liz Dyer
Young Son, Old Son, a Father on the Run – Jerry Wirtley